Holliday rounding into form at plate

Holliday rounding into form at plate

Holliday rounding into form at plate

CHICAGO -- Matt Holliday appeared to be rounding into top form as the Cardinals rolled into Wrigley Field to play the Chicago Cubs in a four-game series this weekend before the All-Star break.

Holliday had hits in three straight games coming into Thursday's game against the Cubs, including home runs in two of the previous three games, but he was removed from the game in the fourth inning after appearing to grab at his right hamstring while running to first on a groundout. Holliday was replaced by Matt Adams, who came in to play first while Allen Craig took Holliday's spot in left field. The Cardinals confirmed the injury as right hamstring tightness.

Holliday's batting average was up to .269 prior to the game, he'd clubbed 13 home runs and driven in 47 while occupying the third spot in the Cardinals' batting order. He was also third in the National League in runs scored (64) and had reached base by hit or walk in 42 of the previous 47 games.

"I think he's just seeing the ball," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "That sounds pretty simple, but that's usually what is going on for guys when they get something going. He has the strength. He has everything he needs to make it happen. It's just whether he's picking it up or not and little things can throw him off in his timing … but it looks like he has his timing right and he's seeing it well."

Placed one spot behind Carlos Beltran in the batting order and just ahead of Allen Craig (.327) and Yadier Molina (.343), a hot Holliday makes the Cardinals even better than usual.

"There were [times] when we've manipulated it a little bit, but for the most part, when he's in that right frame of mind and has a nice swing working for him in the three spot, it really makes it a pretty intimidating lineup to face," Matheny said. "It's nice when Matt's doing the things we know Matt can do."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Brian Hedger is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.